BartG

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  1. This subject reoccurs often. Lena Horne would have been totally wrong for Julie. Julie has to believably passed for white in the deep south of the 1880s. Ms. Horne would never have met the test. It is supposed to be a shock to the audience when she is revealed to be of mixed background. Ava Gardner was perfect casting -- like several actresses of similar closeted background like Merle Oberon, the gorgeous Ava has to play down her ethnicity to be in Hollywood.
  2. A couple of observations about today's discussion about the film of Funny Girl: How did William Wyler deal with Barbra's diva demands -- he turned off his hearing aids and let her rant. Then did what he wanted. Yes, this was Wyler first musical, but he actually had begun The Sound of Music before disagreements with the producers led to his existing the project. On the Gypsy segment, they very much neglected composer Jule Styne. This time nary a mention of lyricist Bob Merrill. Without Bob, "People" would just be a pretty melody. Barbra Streisand did not win a Tony for Funny Girl (in fact, she lost both times she was up for a competitive Tony). She lost to Carol Channing for Hello, Dolly! which is why she campaigned for the film role of Dolly Levi. Barbra's revenge.
  3. Dear Mama Zeus: I did not mean that you, or anyone else, who doesn't respond to Ethel Merman is awful or ignorant. We all respond to some performers and not others. What I was referring to was someone involved in the original production referring to her as "a trained dog" and the constant refrains about her not being an actress. She took the role of Rose very seriously and was thrilled to be playing a character for once who was not essentially her. She was also thrilled to have a fine actor (Jack Klugman) playing opposite her who could help her grow. If I did offend you, I'm very sorry. It was not my intent.
  4. Can we please, please, please stop this "Mama Rose" nonsense. No where in the musical (play or movie) is the character referred to as "Mama Rose". She is "Mama", "Rose", and "Madame Rose" but never ever "Mama Rose". Can we also please stop the bashing of Ethel Merman and Jule Styne. Laurents did NOT decide to center the musical on Gypsy. Merman was signed first so the musical had to be about her character since she was the biggest musical star on Broadway -- only Mary Martin came close. Merman gave a titanic performance as Rose -- strong, sexy, vulnerable and nasty. And Jule Styne provided a brilliant, characterful score. Not knocking Sondheim, but at the time he was by far the least known and least important of the creators. The film is not more open than the musical; in fact it is generally softened especially in Russell's kinder, gentler Rose. Changes in the scene shown here expose the difference in frankness and attitude -- Uncle Jocko on stage is not Herbie, but a separate character. The reason for the balloon girl being favorite is because Jocko wants to bed her older sister and he says so in some quite crude references. The dialogue in the scene is also emblematic of the problem with the film: it run about twice as long as it does on stage because there is much more dialogue, none of which does anything but repeat the point of Rose's control freak nature.
  5. It is a stretch, but it is also said that the grooms' mother's clothes are in the attic, so we can assume some of the clothes have been made over for the bridges.
  6. While I understand your objections to the story, I'd urge you to look at it from a different angle. Yes, Adam is a sexist pig, but the plot line is really about his learning how to value women -- both his wife and their daughter -- and the happy ending is only possible when he changes. Milly chooses to be a wife instead of a working woman (very 50s) but she it is her decision and she only makes it when she finds the right man -- she has turned down many others. She is very strong, both physically and in character; she tames her brothers-in-law and helps them grow up. As to the other "bridges", yes they are kidnapped, but they have already shown their are romantically interested in the men. And they truly seem happy in captivity -- Julie Newmar's (Dorcas) delivery of the line wondering which brother sleeps in "this" bed is about as sexual a line delivery as can be seen in the 50s and definitely a demonstration of a woman in control of her own sexuality. Yes, the brides dream of marriage and babies, but they also are as sexually interested in the brothers as the brothers are in them. And in the end, it is the bridges who take charge of their husbands and their fathers and create their own happy ending.
  7. At the beginning of the number from Silk Stockings, as the fabulous Janis Paige is leaning on the piano, there is a blond male photographer standing there. We glimpse him a few more times during the number. It that Troy Donohue? It certainly looks like him.
  8. The Freed Unit was a bit obsessed with the Churchills. Note the gag in the clip included today from American in Paris with the lookalike actor and Kelly's double take.
  9. I find it amusing that every line of dialogue they quoted as being reflective of the 50s comes straight out of Philip Barry's play of the late 30s. And the play is all about class and class consciousness. Barry was one of the great playwrights of the upper class in pre-War America (being a genteel-poor relative of a rich family in real life). His characters in Philadelphia Story, Holiday and Biography (filmed as Biography of a Bachelor Girl) are rich and complex, and while I enjoy High Society the screenplay adds no depth to them. The film was basically conceived to cash in on Grace Kelly's wealthy Philadelphia society background (she was not working class as the professor states) and her engagement to European royalty (she were her own engagement ring in the film which Celeste Holms said they could have all gone ice skating on). As to Bing Crosby being to old for her, Ms. Kelly evidently didn't think so since they had quite an affair when working together earlier. Also, this is very much a comedy of remarriage -- not Crosby/Grant's line in the confrontation scene after the swim when he punches out Sinatra/Stewart, claiming it is "his right until tomorrow".
  10. In her nightclub act in the '80s, she would joke that husband Tony Martin could always tell who she had been dancing with that day, because when she danced with Astaire her knees would be sore from plieing all day to be shorter than him and when she danced with Kelly she'd be black and blue from the way he threw her around in dance.
  11. There is a huge difference between Jane and Annie. In Annie, in order to win her man, an archetypical chauvinist "pig", she throws the final shooting contest and humiliates herself publicly to get her man (who knows what she's done and loves her for it). Jane becomes true to herself, discards her romantic fantasy of Danny and acknowledges that her best friend is also the man she loves. Bill respects Jane, and only gives her a tough time when she is being untruthful, not when she's being strong. Singing "Secret Love", Jane has discovered her true self, a woman capable of doing men's work. Its a story of self-discovery. Doris Day was a great singer and a terrific actress. In her early films she goes way over the top because the studio wanted her to become the "new" Betty Hutton. But the solid actress is there in her first non-musical role, the under-valued Storm Warning, a direct rip off of Streetcar Named Desire, where she gives a convincing performance as "Stella", and happens to be the film the Alfred Hitchcock saw and decided to write the role in The Man Who Knew Too Much specifically for her.
  12. I went back to listen to that also. Lerner was married 7 times. None of them were Frederick Loewe's daughter. A very strange comment, but not the only mistake I've heard from her. The Broadway production of On the Town happened during, not before, WWII, and the stage musical is in mood and action completely dominated by that fact -- something the film version completely abandons. The comment in today's film clip says that Astaire is the only experienced dancer in the number, a few strange statement since Nanette Fabray had starred on Broadway in musicals, often working with renown choreographers like Agnes De Mille and Gower Champion.
  13. Adore her and Betty Grable. I find it very strange that neither of them have been acknowledge during the class when they were two of the biggest stars during the War years. I know TCM has limited access to their films, but certainly their impact, along with fellow Fox star Carmen Miranda, could have been acknowledged.
  14. To be fair, Esther could sing (she wasn't dubbed in her films) and does quite a lot later in her career, even introducing the standard Baby It's Cold Outside. She also does some dancing, partnering both Ricardo Montalban and Gene Kelly among other.
  15. I was quite surprised that in the discussion of the film, with an emphasis on backstage folks, that the producer wasn't mentioned. Jack Cummings, for the most part, produced the MGM movies that neither the more important Arthur Freed or Joe Pasternack didn't want to and were considered kind of minor As. Actually, this film reflects the Pasternack style where any performer might show up to do a number that has nothing to do with the story where the Freed Unit concentrated more on tighter storylines where the songs were related to the story. Cummings did both. Also, Skelton wasn't considered quite an A star and, of course, Williams at this moment wasn't a star at all -- until the film was released so all of the "name" talent was tossed in to shore it up at the box office.

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